January Financial Challenge Update

As you know if you’ve been following along, I decided to complete 36 monthly challenges this year beginning with three financial challenges to kick things off. In the month of January I planned to save $500, give away or sell 500 items, and complete a spending freeze. If you’re thinking that seems like a lot of hefty goals - it is! Now that we’re halfway through the month, it’s time to review with a January Financial Challenge Update!

Save $500

This is going great so far. I’ve been saving with the Chris Peach $500 Savings Challenge, which is really nice because Chris sends an email update daily to remind you to put money in your jar. Basically, the way this works is that you put $1 in your jar on January 1, $2 on January 2 and so on until you have nearly $500 in savings by the end of the month! I’ve never saved this month in a month and usually only put about $300 into savings monthly so this is a huge challenge for me, but luckily I have some great tools at my disposal. Not only do I have Chris’ emails to keep my on track, but I’ve been using the app Tip Yourself to make the process of saving super easy.

Tip Yourself is an app that allows you to put money into a separate savings account in small increments when you achieve a goal that you’ve been working on. Say you’re trying to exercise three times a week. If you do it, you can tip yourself by adding a predetermined dollar amount to your “tip jar.” Not only are you rewarding yourself for later, but you’re also helping yourself to form good habits - win-win! Since it’s a pain to log into my bank every day and transfer small amounts to a savings account, I’ve just been logging into Tip Yourself this month and transferring the amounts there. And guess what - it has made saving $136 so far a breeze! I’m so grateful that I found this app - it’s one of the great tools in my arsenal that is keeping me accountable and helping me on this journey to savings.

Sell/Donate 500 Items

The Minimalism Game follows a similar premise to Chris’ Savings Challenge in that on the first day you get rid of 1 item, on the second, 2 items, and so on leading to nearly 500 items sold or donated by the end of the game. This has been tough for me! I’m a holder-on-er, which, for me, means that I can see nostalgic value in almost everything I own. With that said, I know that not everything I own is bringing me joy or serving a purpose in my life anymore and I’ve been striving to live more minimally. The KonMari method has come in huge help so far as I’ve been going through this process. It has helped me get rid of, to name a few:

46 articles of clothing
30 books
My old cell phone and camcorder
Numerous knick knacks and odd and assorted items

I’ve been doing my best to sell many of the items on OfferUp, which is a super quick and easy way to make a little bit of money on things you no longer use. OfferUp is the new Craigslist, in my opinion. It’s in app form so it’s incredibly easy to post items and you can respond to requests right in the app - no emails exchanged. I sold my old cell phone - one that had just been sitting on my shelf - for $130! That’s just cash directly in my pocket (or applied to my savings challenge or debt repayment!) I’ve also submitted many of my clothing items through ThredUp - an awesome online used clothing store that makes selling and buying secondhand clothing super simple. I’ve loved my experience with them so far and am now just waiting to hear how much my clothes are bringing in! If you use the link above you’ll get $10 applied to your account for your first ThredUp purchase - that’s a whole pair of pants or a top on ThredUp!

I’ve completed spending freezes in the past and you’d think they’d get easier, but I’m still constantly tempted to buy, buy, buy. That said, I’ve been doing super well this month. I’m incredibly impressed with the amount I’ve been able to save as a result of saying no to non-essentials. And that money goes straight toward my savings and debt repayment which is awesome. I’ve spent most of my money on bills and groceries so far this month, have not bought a single article of clothing, book, or home good item, and have been more intentional about saving money on gas and parking. It’s been great! The one area that is consistently my downfall is gifts. I’ve already bought two gifts this month and this is a hard one to break for me. My mom’s birthday was this month and it’s also a special month for my partner so two gifts it was. I spent less than $35 total, but I still definitely noticed that money slip away.

One of the great resources I’ve been using to carefully track my spending this month is Cait Flander’s Mindful Budgeting Planner. This was a gift for my birthday from my best friend and is one of the primary reasons I decided to start this blog. I’ll be completing a full review of the planner in a later post, but for now, suffice it to say, I love tracking my spending using Cait’s method, love being able to reflect on the week of spending, and love setting quarterly goals and watching myself stay in line with my values and plans when it comes to my finances. The whole thing is super exciting and I love having found something that works well for me.

In addition to this paper-and-pencil planner (which, as I’ll relay in a future post on bullet journaling, is my jam), I’ve been using the Mint app to track my spending. Mint is a money management app that allows you to keep a budget, track your spending, set up bill-pay reminders, and set goals and track your progress. I’ve loved using this app and have been for over a year now! It’s a quick and simple way to keep track of what you’re spending and I use it to transfer my purchases to my Mindful Budgeting Planner daily. It’s nice not to have to keep track of receipts and to not have to log into my bank account every day to see my transactions.

Overall this month is going great with my financial goals which is, honestly, a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the process of tracking my financials, saving money, and minimizing, but it’s been really nice to see where my money is going and to be more intentional about my spending and saving. I’m excited that I’ll still have a hefty amount of money in my checking account at the end of this month that I can apply to my debt repayment next month and excited that I’ll be saving and living more minimally in the process. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the month holds and move into February with some new, great financial habits in place!

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